by Staff Sgt. Kenny Holston
20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
5/2/2014 - SHAW AIR FORCE, S.C. -- Airmen
assigned to the 20th Maintenance Group began testing iPads in place of
laptop "tough-books" to view their technical orders on April 28.
A 10-member pilot test team assigned to Air Combat Command Directorate
of Logistics arrived here to aid in the testing of the iPads and log
Technical Order manuals are used by all Airmen who perform any type of
maintenance on equipment or aircraft. The TO provides maintainers with
step-by-step instructions as they carry out their duties.
Currently, electronic TOs are loaded onto the ruggedized laptops, but
suffer from frequent crashes and very limited battery life. The iPads
hold the same information, have significantly longer battery life and
don't require a CAC log on. This last feature saves significant time
when checking out the tool prior to beginning a shift.
All the information previously loaded onto the cumbersome, ruggedized
laptop has been loaded onto iPads along with other added features
designed to better aid Airmen.
Some additional ideas behind replacing the laptops with iPads include
increased communication, efficiency and ultimately productivity,
explained Senior Airman Matthew Leke, 20th Aircraft Maintenance
Squadron, 55th Aircraft Maintenance Unit tactical aircraft maintainer.
"The iPads make it a lot easier to get a hold of an expediter," said
Leke. "You no longer have to wait for them to come into view and flag
them down. You can just put their name in the chat and send them a
The collaboration application includes texting and chat room type
capabilities, allowing multiple individuals to monitor specific
activities around the maintenance group, in addition to providing a
longer battery life for the TO viewer.
More than 15 training sessions were conducted for approximately 275
personnel on operating procedures for the iPads, allowing Airmen to
become familiar with them before using the technology during real-world
"Initial training was provided prior to the iPads being issued," said
Leke. "However, for someone who has never used an iPad or iPhone it's a
little bit tougher to get used to."
As Airmen completed training on properly applying the advantages of the new tool, they hit the ground running.
iPads where issued to the 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 55th
Aircraft Maintenance Unit, 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron, 20th
Component Maintenance Squadron, Maintenance Operations Center and
Quality Assurance team.
One key question, initially brought up by Airmen who endure the daily
grind in the maintenance world, was the durability of the iPad and
whether or not the technologically advanced tool would withstand the
beating it's sure to undergo over time, given the nature of the job.
"There have been zero broken iPads so far," said Senior Master Sgt. Ed
Dierkens, Air Combat Command pilot test team NCO in charge. "Initial
feedback is very positive."
Dierkens and his team plan to continue working with 20th MXG Airmen,
testing the iPads extensively for the next six weeks to tally test data.